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05 June 2008

Art Nouveau Primer

I think that my favorite style of design is Art Nouveau. I simply adore the curvy, organic lines. The style was most popular around the turn of the last century (1890-1914). It has been called an artistic response to the utilitarian design of the industrial revolution, an attempt by contemporary artists to inject beauty back into cities and objects. It was also a backlash against mass production, which is something that seems to be very relevant today. At the turn of the 20th century, those with style are increasingly seeking out superior craftsmanship and durability, with eye toward supporting artisans. This mirrors the desires of those involved in the Art Nouveau movement one hundred years ago.


Art Nouveau overlaps a great deal with the Arts and Crafts movement (another personal favorite). Arts and Crafts can be simpler and less ornamental than some Art Nouveau works, and is defined by its emphasis on hand made, artisanal production.


Here are a few names to know from the Art Nouveau Movement:
  • Tiffany Glass and Decorating Co. (yes, it is the ancestor of Tiffnay, as in Breakfast at Tiffany)
  • Morris and Co. was an early manufactures of this style, it went out of business in 1939, it has been reborn as a new company which manufacturers replicas of the original products
  • Aubrey Beardsley was an illustrator in the Art Nouveau style
  • Some works by Gustav Klimt , Mucha and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec are done in this style
  • Adler and Sullivan, Antoni Gaudi, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright all designed building in the Arts and Crafts or Art Nouveau style
These are just a handful of names to know! There is a full and rich body of work to discover if you've fallen in love with Art Nouveau!


If you would like to absorb more of this beautiful style, I recommend watching GiGi or the opening animated sequences of Enchanted. If you have a lot of money to spend...Chicago, Barcelona, Prague or Glasgow all have excellent, well preserved architecture in this style.

Image sources on flickr


thelovelist said...

well, since I cant jet off to Prague, I guess now I have a grown-up excuse to rent Enchanted, haha!

Anonymous said...

I love the Art Nouveau look in Glasgow, Scotlands Cranston Tea Rooms designed by Charles Rennie McIntosh. Very similar feel to the design of the Glasgow Art School attended in the past by most of my G3 Creative colleagues.

G.G. said...